Every cringe receptor within our bodies went crazy for the Colombian women’s cycling team this week, when it transpired that their team kits made it look like you could see their hoo-has.
It’s a pretty rubbish thing to happen to them, but it got us thinking about how it’s not just the best female cyclists that run into attire-based issues. Finding cheap, decent cyclewear is a difficult task for many. I’ve personally given up on finding anything that’s not in a sale, or that I haven’t saved up for over the course of months.
So I decided to try and rate the state of cheap women’s cycling clothes by taking a jaunt round three popular central London stores and taking selfies of me trying things on in the changing rooms. Photographic brilliance is about to ensue: trust me.
I had to set down some parameters, so I decided to try and find a jersey around the £40 mark. Because most lower-end jerseys sit at about £60, I thought this would give me a challenge and also demonstrate how difficult it is to get yourself comfy on a bike if you’re a student or someone on a limited income.
I also intended to judge the clothes on how icky they made me feel, how self-conscious of my lumps I was in it, and how ‘gendered’ the product seemed.
I did this all in the midst of a pretty gross break-out, with hella sweaty hair. Don’t say I don’t make sacrifices for you guys.
My first trip was to Condor, an independent cycle store that sells lots of brands. I thought it would be a great place to start. Unfortunately, the wide range of brands does not translate to a wide range of price points, and I could only source one item that was (kind of) in my size. It was the Sportful Anakonda jersey (reduced to £40 from £65). Ignoring for a moment that Nicki Minaj has ruined that word for everyone, this jersey was white.
White. Why people make white jerseys for women is totally beyond comprehension. If you are a woman with next-to-no boob, like me, then you probably prefer not to wear a bra under your jersey, or, as I was doing during this experiment, wear a cotton bra from American Apparel that provides a token amount of support.
If you do have boobs you’ll be wearing a sports bra. Sports bras are not pretty things.
Neither of these options work well under a white jersey. The Iron Man-like nature of your sports bra’s clasps are revealed to the world, or everyone gets a good eyeful of nip. Stop it, cycling clothing companies. Stop it now.
This Altura one was a steal at £29.99, but it was far too small for me to squeeze into. I did think it was worth photographing the Altura ‘A’ on the bottom right-hand corner of the jersey though, as it is so hilariously effeminate. It could be on a sanitary towel packet.
There were some nice jerseys about of course, but most were Rapha or Rapha-esque. Most things that caught my eye were upwards of £100.
2. Cycle Surgery
This shop proved to have many more options within my price range, but there was a terrifying amount of pink. Particularly this shade of fluro pink, which has been trendy for men over the past few years, but makes women look like a barbie dolls. This Endura jersey also had incredibly long sleeves, although that might be something to do with the fact I’m a large but only 5″4′. I was also highly aware of how much I looked like a condom stuffed with the burrito I’d had for lunch. One to avoid unless you’re amazing and not body conscious.
Then there was this thing, by Specialized. It was OK, and considering it meant to be £60 but in the half-price sale, good value. It felt light and sleek. But the shapes on it kind of made it look like a vampire was trying to eat my breasts.
This Chapeau jersey was the best of the day, with 25% off its £60 price tag in the sale. It felt tight, but instead of making me bulge out over my shorts it actually gave me some nice lines when viewed front-on. Obviously I still have a belly, but I’m not after miracles at this price. It also looks lovely – obviously feminine but not effeminate. No glitter to be seen (I’m looking at you, Castelli).
When you arrive at Evans they have a gigantic poster of a woman on the front, wearing chic, all-black gear. Unfortunately, again, most of this stuff was £80 and above. I was back in the Altura/Endura region.
First I tried this long-sleeve jersey by LG, that was scratchy on the inside and had these black under-arm patches that freaked me out a bit. I suppose they’re intended to disguise sweatiness, but I just thought they looked lazy. Also, more pinky/purple tones. And it’s just a bit gross, right?
Finally I tried this Endura jersey in quite a pleasing turquoise colour. But it looked like a wetsuit. There are two possible reasons for this: one, the people who design these things are blind/men with no taste or; two, womenswear is always an afterthought for these companies.
Any recommendations for women’s gear that’s cheap and not horrid? Let us know!